Topline

A significant winter storm that will impact much of the eastern U.S. this weekend has started its sweep across the country, with heavy snow being reported in the Midwest as the storm barrels toward the South before making its way up the East Coast, leading to numerous school and business closures in advance of the weather.

Key Facts

Snow began blanketing parts of Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas Friday, leading to several weather-related accidents, including one that shut down a portion of Interstate 35 in Iowa.

Winter storm warnings are in effect across portions of Minnesota and Iowa, where accumulations are expected to reach 10 inches before the storm pushes out of the area early Saturday morning.

The storm will impact much of the mid-South tomorrow, with winter storm watches as far south as Mississippi, while portions of western Tennessee could receive around six inches of snow–potentially dangerous conditions in a region not accustomed to winter weather.

The Carolinas should start to feel impacts by Saturday evening, where there is a significant risk for freezing rain, which will continue into Sunday, while much of Appalachia will experience heavy snow.

Parts of western Pennsylvania could receive a foot of snow, mainly Sunday night, with major East Coast cities like Philadelphia and New York City receiving lighter amounts of snow before the storm moves into New England on Monday.

Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Charlotte, Kansas City and St. Louis are also among the large cities in the storm’s path.

Crucial Quote

“Significant impacts due to snow are likely, and damaging freezing rain is possible in the Piedmont of the Carolinas,” the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center tweeted.

What To Watch For

Parts of western North Carolina, northern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina could experience the most dangerous impacts, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Freezing rain there could cause extremely hazardous travel and lead to widespread power outages. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) signed a state of emergency Friday in preparation.

Key Background

Winter appears to be finally kicking into gear in the U.S. after the nation experienced its warmest December on record, with 2021 being the fourth-warmest year in U.S. history. The eastern part of the country had an especially mild winter prior to this recent cold snap, driven in large part by a climate pattern called La Nina, which generally brings colder-than-normal weather to the west coast but warm conditions across much of the South and East. Colder-than-normal temperatures, however, are expected to stick around the eastern U.S. through the end of January, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

Tangent

Dangerously cold sub-zero temperatures are also expected across much of New England and upstate New York Friday night, where wind chills could drop below -40.

Further Reading

La Nina Forms: High Risk For Western Wildfires And A Cold Winter May Follow (Forbes)

Here are the schools, businesses closed for the winter storm (WSOC-TV)

Source: Forbes – Business

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